'Voice of Jayhawks' to retire

Max Falkenstien to call one last season, his 60th

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Max Falkenstien's 60th season of broadcasting Kansas University sporting events will be his last.

The Hall of Fame announcer on Tuesday announced plans to retire as color commentator on the KU radio network after working the final game of the 2005-06 men's basketball season.

"I decided a couple years ago I would hang it up after I reached 60 seasons and this just seems a good time to do it," Falkenstien said. "Although I still am in good health, I realize there finally comes a time when one must call an end to something, no matter how much he enjoys it.

"I will not dry up and fade away. I'll still be around, I'm sure."

Falkenstien said he might continue covering KU sports in some capacity.

"They indicated they want me to continue to do some things," he said of KU officials. "I will have the whole year to figure out what I want to do. Lew (Perkins, athletic director) has been so nice to me. He said, 'Whatever you want to do, that's what we'll do.'"

It was Perkins who suggested Falkenstien announce his decision rather than keep it secret on his farewell tour of Big 12 stadiums and arenas.

"Lew said, 'You need to give people the opportunity to thank you,''' Falkenstien said. "I hope this won't be a big deal. I've had so many really nice recognitions, I just would like it to be a typical year, just like all the other years.

"I think it's going to be a really exciting year, and I'm looking forward to it like all of them."

Falkenstien, 81, has been inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. He has been inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and the KU Athletic Hall of Fame. He was the first inductee of the Lawrence High School Hall of Honor. In addition, he has been awarded an honorary "K" by the Kansas Lettermen's Club.

"No one can replace Max," Perkins said. "We will always be indebted to him for what he has done and what he means to Jayhawk athletics. He will continue to play a role for us on the broadcasts and at KU athletics. There will always be a place for him here."

The Sporting News in 2001 named Falkenstien "the best college radio personality in the country." ESPN's Dick Vitale selected KU's Bob Davis and Falkenstien to his "Sweet 16" of the best announce teams in the U.S.

"Max is awesome," KU basketball coach Bill Self said. "Max has performed at the highest level over an extended period of time like very few in his profession."

"Max has been synonymous with KU Athletics for six decades. Although I've only known him for a few years, he has always shown great love and affection for our football team. Nobody in radio broadcasting has done it better than Max. We will surely miss him," KU head football coach Mark Mangino said.

"Max is a true legend," noted KU associate AD Jim Marchiony. "It's hard to put into words what he means to this program. He means so much not only to Kansas basketball but all college basketball."

Falkenstien broadcast his first basketball game -- an NCAA tournament game in Kansas City between KU and Oklahoma A&M -- on March 18, 1946. His next broadcast was KU's football opener against TCU on Sept. 21, 1946. He served as play-by-play voice of the Jayhawks for 39 years and switched to the commentator's role in September 1984 when Bob Davis assumed play-by-play duties.

He provided play-by-play on the Big Eight Conference basketball game of the week between 1968 and 1971. For more than three decades he hosted football and basketball coaches' TV shows, including those for Don Fambrough, Pepper Rogers, Mike Gottfried, Ted Owens, Larry Brown and Roy Williams.

"I will treasure the great friendships I've made," Falkenstien said. "Nobody will ever do this again. It's impossible. It's so long. It will never happen again."